Sharpening your focus

If you’ve kept a notebook by your side and jotted down your responses as you’ve been reading these Talking Money postings, you now have a rather intense Money Journal, which can help in the this exercise:

Write your own Money Autobiography, considering what you would do with your life – or have done differently, if money were no object. What might you do now?

As you review your spending, ask yourself:

Is my outlook on money and its uses changing? In what ways?

If you have been exploring these issues with a money-buddy or discussion circle, compare your responses.

Is your spending itself changing? Are you spending less but receiving more satisfaction? Have you found areas where you’ve chosen to spend more?

Now that you’ve considered ways that spiritual traditions can shape your use of wealth, reflect on your own faith community and ask: ”Would I now be comfortable having the equivalent of the historic Quaker overseers inspect my finances, especially if they could suggest ways to assist my budgeting and goal-setting?

At a basic level:

Are you more open to sharing your stories about money? Do you see possibilities of discussion that are neither “crass” nor “tasteless”?

As you continue to align your life, your spending, and your deepest values, you become freer to set long-term financial goals and monitor your progress. Areas to explore may include:

  • Consumer spending. How I express my values through my surroundings, home, clothing, car, and food?
  • Gifts and giving.
  • A legacy, to pass on.
  • Retirement and security.
  • Education and culture.
  • Entertainment and sports.
  • Pets.
  • Hobbies.
  • Travel.
  • Traditions and celebrations.
  • Empowering others.
  • Assisting family.
  • Collections and their care.
  • Toys for adults.

In Joel 2:28, the prophet foresees a time when “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” One interpretation of the passage emphasizes the different outlook we have when we start out in life, full of optimism, than when we near its end, scarred and worn by struggles and losses. Many of us lose our dreams as we age. Prophetic vision, on the other hand, is typically reserved as a gift to those who have distilled life’s lessons and learned the art of statesmanship. For many, vision typically narrows as we age. Eyeglasses become more common – bifocals, too. When we apply the lessons of our careers and economic life to this process, too often our viewpoint shrinks. But, in the eyes of Joel, that is not the divine ideal. May your meditations on money, wealth, and work spiritually empower you anew, making your dreams forever rich and young, while filling your hearts with wisdom.

Blessings, all.